Is piercing a baby's ears child abuse?
A VIDEO of a baby getting her ears pierced has sparked fierce debate online.
The short clip shows a tot being held by her mother as the procedure takes place, before wailing when the piercing gun punctures her lobe.
While the baby seems at ease when she first meets the piercer, she appears to get increasingly distressed throughout the process.
She is comforted by her mum as the salon worker places marker dots on her ears.
After the piercing gun does its job, the startled tot cries out as staff do their best to calm her down.
The video, which is believed to have been filmed in the US, has been causing a stir since it was uploaded to the Piercings Facebook page earlier this month.
More than 12,000 people have given their opinion on the controversial footage, which has been viewed over 3.6 million times.
The vast majority of parents have slammed the woman in the video for putting her daughter through the minor cosmetic procedure.
One Facebook user remarked: "Omg the poor baby, this made me really sad and angry.
"All done for the sake of the parents, should be an age limit to stop this from happening."
Another agreed that it "shouldn't be allowed", while one viewer even insisted it was "child abuse".
Although the response to the video has been almost completely negative, not everyone disagrees with piercing the ears of babies.
One Facebook user insisted: "This isn't even a f****** big deal people get over yourself she's not torturing the baby ...
"If she doesn't want it when she's older she can take them out."
Another added: "I'm glad my mum had mine done lol I think it would've been worse if I'd had them done older and remembered the pain."
Doctor Carol Cooper, on the medical implications of ear-piercing for babies
Ear-piercing in babies and toddlers is controversial. On the one hand, it could be seen as a form of child abuse. But it's also widely done in many countries and cultures, and is a lot less of an assault than other procedures some girls have to endure.
There are certainly medical hazards.
Infection is one, which is why many paediatricians recommend waiting until at least the first tetanus jab at two months of age. But there are also many other potential infections which routine vaccines don't prevent. Getting ears pierced somewhere that just looks clean is no guarantee.
Tearing the earlobe is a risk if the earring gets caught on clothing or bedding, or the baby just pulls on it.
The earrings can also fall out, and they're small enough to be a choking hazard to a baby or young child.
Sometimes keloid scarring results, with an unsightly lumpy scar.
That's why it's better to wait till your child is old enough to want pierced ears, as well as to look after them herself.